Assessing Language Use in Reading Comprehension?

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Assessing Language Use in Reading Comprehension?

While it is a common practice for reading comprehension to be assessed using short-answer questions based on a passage, the criteria for marking could vary. It is generally recognised that in assessing students', responses to these questions, errors in language use, namely, grammar, spelling and punctuation, should not be penalised, so as to preserve the integrity or ‘,purity’, of the reading comprehension construct.However, when reading comprehension is assessed as part of a large scale examination, there is concern among markers that failure to penalise for errors in language use would result in a washback effect whereby teachers place less emphasis on the teaching and learning of correct grammar, spelling andpunctuation. This is especially pertinent when the examination is offered by relatively young learners at the primary level, where a strong foundation in the mechanics of using the language is seen to be very important. A research study was thus carried out on a sample of Grade 6 students to provide further insight into this issue. In particular, the study seeks to find out how the different ways of assessing language use in a Reading Comprehension paper affect the test scores across different ability groups.Also, do the test scores differ significantly if language use is not assessed, and in what way? This paper ,discusses the preliminary findings from the study.

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